The morning after their summoned feast, the party awoke to find the silken tent gone, along with their comfortable bedding. The small halfling with which they had escaped had vanished into the night as well, which elicited no great surprise.
Tlaloc's wound had gotten worse during the night, and he was no longer conscious. King Jared had warned them about the disease, claiming that he had removed the magical curse that blocked healing it, but he could not cure the disease itself. The only solution was to ride hard for Cauldron, a difficult task considering they had no horses. Jared was not to be deterred; he summoned a stableman with enough horses for all of them. This brought about some consternation, given Jared's abilities with illusion, but Tai and Via mounted up anyway, lashing Tlaloc to a horse as well. They set off in a southerly direction, only to find out the horses were indeed illusionary just over the ridge line. After a short debate on carrying capacity and the need for dragon parts, Tai shouldered the half orc once more and began plodding south.
Although neither of the pair was an especially adept woodsman, they had followed a series of paths for much of the journey. They kept to those that looked familiar, and failed to get too lost. Tlaloc regained consciousness at one point, but lost it again when they spent the night in a peasant village one day's ride north of Cauldron. The horses, while expensive, served them well. They reached Cauldron the next day at midnight, and went immediately to see Jenya Urikas, High Priestess of St. Cuthbert.
Jenya knew a way to cure the disease, but it would have to wait until her morning prayers to St. Cuthbert. Tai inquired to Ruphus about the manner in which one would slay a devil, and Ruphus provided two vials of blessed oil that would help. Beyond that, he said, all you'll need is a strong arm and a sharp blade, hopefully.
The next morning, Jenya performed her ritual healing of Tlaloc, not only removing the disease but healing his disease-ravaged body back to its former status. Ruphus, having spoken with Jenya previously, volunteered his services in the rescue of Casorati, Yeshua, and Arvaston. He donned his chainmail, slung his shield over his shoulder, and hefted his blessed heavy mace.
A short stop for supplies at Skie's Treasury was necessary to replenish their stock of potions, then it was on to their own home for a few other supplies. They were quite shocked to see tents set up in the alley beside their house, and a gaggle of bald priestly types engaged in a variety of activities in their home. Via angrily shouted that they had to leave, and they had better not have entered her room on pain of death. One of the acolytes scurried to find his master, the Lady Kestrel. She related the story of how they had encamped in the home.
She told a story of a mystical prophet, whose words and deeds were inspiring to those who had lost hope. She spoke of a man strong and wise, whose every glance communicated endless epiphanies. Her religious master was none other than Yeshua, currently prisoner (or worse) of the Kuo-Toans. When the nature of Yeshua's current status came to light, Kestrel and the acolytes pledged to aid in his rescue, pledging their very lives. Via warned Tai that this is exactly what converts do: die at the first inconvenient time, in droves. Tlaloc argued that a sword is a sword, and they needed the help. Following this advice, they accepted the presence of Kestrel, but decided to leave the other acolytes behind.
The odd group rode off toward the Pit of Seven Jaws, with Ruphus seeking a theological debate with Kestrel. She politely made small talk, without committing to his debate. The group reached Jared's valley without incident, and spoke to him briefly to ascertain the current whereabouts of the behir that had presumably eaten their last horses. Jared's warning was similar to his last: the beast is near, and was seen in the valleys nearby by his scouts. Nonplussed, the party continued on toward the pit.
Less than ten miles out from the pit, someone heard a faraway sound. Their current path lay along the bottom of a forested valley, and from their streamside path they could see the jungle canopy along both sides of the valley. Via and Ruphus saw the rustling of trees, and the accompanying crack and splinter of tree branches being knocked aside for something large. Via asked Tai several questions about what could be so large, and is met with Tai issuing the order to run like hell. The entire group rides hard for forty five minutes, bringing them to the mouth of the Pit of Seven Jaws. They decided that it would be better to bring their horses inside, rather than risk the behir coming upon them outside and eating them. They urge the horses to the bottom of the pit, tying and hobbling them past the dead hydra (which frightens the horses badly).
A few hours walk later, the party engages in combat with four ambushing ogres. The ambush goes poorly for the ogres, and Ruphus makes himself useful by casting every spell he can think of that will help. After defeating the last of the ogres, the party stops to rest for a while. The next day will bring them back to the Temple of Bhal-Hamatugn, and they need to be fully prepared for what lies ahead...